Dear Carolina Community,
Three years ago on Monday, we launched our university’s strategic plan, Carolina Next: Innovations for Public Good. This roadmap continues to chart our course to become the leading global public research university in the nation. One of the strategic initiatives in our plan is to Promote Democracy. We know the importance of building the next generation of leaders to strengthen our country’s institutions and serve as the citizens we need to solve the grand challenges of our time. I am proud of how we have stayed true to what we put on paper, to produce highly engaged citizens and leaders who are driven by an abiding ethos of service to our community, the state of North Carolina and beyond.
Yesterday, our Board of Trustees voted to support the exploration and development of a School of Civic Life and Leadership. I appreciate the encouragement of our Board to build on the work we have done and I share the ideal that our students are served by learning to listen, engage, and seek different perspectives that contribute to robust public discourse.
Any proposed degree program or school will be developed and led by our faculty, deans, and provost. Our faculty are the marketplace of ideas and they will build the curriculum and determine who will teach it, just as they determined the capacities laid out in our new Ideas in Action Curriculum. I will be working with our faculty to study the feasibility of such a school and the ways we can most effectively accomplish our goal of promoting democracy in our world today.
This is not something new for Carolina.
Our outstanding Program for Public Discourse was launched by our faculty and is challenging students to debate and discuss the critical issues of our day. From affirmative action to abortion to environmental sustainability, they are wrestling with challenging topics that shape our future. Our faculty are leading curriculum development, providing resources and consultations for classrooms across campus. The Agora Fellows program provides undergraduate students a space to experiment with public discourse in a collaborative environment. I am grateful to the Carolina faculty, students, and alumni who have contributed to the success of this unique program, as it has served as an important foundation for what may be possible.
As the nation’s first public university, we have a responsibility to be a place that brings together people of diverse backgrounds, experiences and viewpoints to debate the issues of our day. We are working to support a culture of respect, debate, and discovery. It won’t be easy and will often feel simply uncomfortable. Yet these are the skills our students, and we as citizens, need to be stewards of our democracy.
Kevin M. GuskiewiczChancellor